December 22, 2014

Elyria
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HarborWalk residents demand tax break

Poor maintenance blamed for lower property values

LORAIN – Residents of the HarborWalk development are attempting to get their property taxes lowered because of what they say is the poor appearance of their riverfront community.

STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE
Residents of the Lorain Harborwalk attend the City Council meeting Monday night.

During a meeting Monday of the City Council`s Building and Lands Committee, residents said they want their taxes lowered because their property values were declining due to the high weeds, unpainted fences and other unsightly property maintenance issues.

If the residents are successful, land owner Spitzer Management will have to pay the balance on the taxes because of an agreement the company worked out with the city more than eight years ago to build at the Colorado Avenue site, city Auditor Ron Mantini said.

Residents said they blamed Spitzer for the appearance of the undeveloped land in the development and the city for not enforcing its own property maintenance codes.

Spitzer Management President Alan Spitzer has said the company has no responsibility to care for that land because it is supposed to have homes built there. A struggling housing market has prevented developer Zaremba Homes from building out the development, he said.

Safety Service Director Andrew Winemiller agreed to sit down with residents, city officials and Spitzer as early as next week to determine whether a lack of enforcement is the issue.

Councilman Tony Krasienko, D-at large, said the development was presented to Council about eight years ago as a jewel for the city, but it has turned into a disappointment.

“When you walk in there you see how special the area can be, but then you turn east and see what these people see,” said Krasienko, who will become mayor in January. “There needs to be a frank conversation with Spitzer that this is less than what we expected.”

Council President Ken Shawver said other developments, specifically an Oster Homes subdivision off Martin`s Run Drive, have been properly maintained, and there`s no reason why HarborWalk can`t be as well.

“If that was done at HarborWalk, I think there`d be more people trying to get into HarborWalk,” he said.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.